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Texas Association of Business Endorses Communities In Schools

Communities In Schools was recently endorsed by the Texas Association of Business (TAB). TAB represents over 3,000 business members and has been the state’s most influential business association for over 85 years in both Austin and Washington. Along with endorsing CIS, TAB is also asking legislators to “increase funding for CIS during the 83rd Legislative Session.”

Communities In Schools works to prevent students in Tarrant County from dropping out of school by placing licensed social workers into schools to have critical interventions with students most at risk. They have a 98% success rate and helped over 23,000 students last year alone. Bill Hammond, President and CEO of TAB, stated that CIS “has historically reduced absenteeism, modified high risk behaviors, engaged parents, and increased promotion and graduation rates, unlike any other program. In reality, there is no other comprehensive education related non-profit group which is as outcome oriented and reputable as CIS.”

Hammond also expressed his belief that CIS is “driven toward long term gains- converting prospective tax users into prospective tax payers.” This coincides with information recently released by Mike Steele, President and CEO of CIS, explaining that for the first time research has been able to provide a numerical figure to these long term gains, and for every dollar invested into CIS the quantified economic return is $13.30. In addition to endorsing CIS, TAB has also included CIS in their 2013 Legislative Priorities Booklet found on their website at Recognition of CIS’s success by this prestigious professional organization is an honor, and CIS looks forward to the positive results from their support in legislation.


To learn more about Communities In Schools you can visit our website at

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Report to the Community Recap

Communities In Schools’ 7th annual Report to the Community Breakfast took place on Tuesday, February 5th at The Woman’s Club of Fort Worth. CIS was delighted to share program outcomes with key stakeholders, confirming that their investments are yielding a positive return in the lives of thousands of Tarrant County students. Guests heard a detailed report of the stay-in-school and graduation outcomes for the past school year as well as personal accounts from students served by the program.       

CIS has a strong track record of successfully keeping at-risk students in school and providing them the support they need to graduate. The CIS “report card” from the 2011-2012 school year can be found at A few key outcomes include:

  • Total Students Served in 38 Schools……………………23,297
  • Intensively Managed Students……………………………3,307

Of those students receiving intensive case management:

  • Stay in School Rate: 98%
  • Improved behavior: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 95%
  • Post Secondary School: 76%

These results confirm the effectiveness of the CIS program. Proof also lies in the personal accounts from students who have worked intensely with CIS social workers, resulting in positive life changes. At the Report to the Community Breakfast, students Emahni Holliday and Christine Thompson shared how CIS intervention has transformed their lives.

Emahni Holliday is a student at Central Junior High School. Emahni has experienced many trials that would be difficult for any child to overcome. At a young age Emahni found herself beginning to act out both at school and at home. Emahni explains she felt “angry” almost all of the time, and eventually she started abusing drugs. It seemed as if no one could correct the path she was on. Emahni then met her CIS social worker and things took a turn for the better. She developed a relationship with her social worker that allowed her to start connecting with those around her, including her Assistant Principal. Then this past Thanksgiving, Emahni’s older brother passed away. In a situation where she would usually react with anger and misbehavior, Emahni has been able to work through her anger and sadness in a healthy way with the help of her CIS social worker and others with whom she has begun to develop relationships. Those around Emahni have noticed the change in her and her future has begun to look very bright. 

Christine Thompson is a senior at Azle High School. Christine’s father operated a meth lab in her house when she was only 6 years old. Her father would leave her and her older brother at home to go on drug deals, and even at such a young age Christine knew she was living a nightmare. After Christine developed a rare lung condition from the fumes of the meth lab, her father was arrested and charged with drug possession, a controlled lab, and two counts of child endangerment. Afterward, Christine was placed into the custody of her mother and step-father and things seemed to be improving. Christine entered high school with a positive attitude, she made the honor roll and was even a member of the school marching band. Things were looking good until she learned her father had passed away. Christine had trouble coping with the devastating news, and her grades slipped as she gave up on her dream of going to college and becoming a nurse. However, it was then Christine was introduced to CIS, a program that she says has “change her life forever.” Christine developed a relationship with her CIS social worker, Ms. Haas, which was a blessing, especially when Christine’s mother was soon thereafter arrested for drug possession. Feeling hurt and betrayed, Christine was able to turn to her social worker, Ms. Haas, to help her through her grief and depression.  Christine pushed through yet another trial in her life, improved her grades, set goals, and was recently accepted to Lubbock Christian University with an academic scholarship to study nursing.


If you would like to see more success stories you can visit our website at

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Texas High School Graduation Rates Tied for 3rd in the Nation

According to the US Department of Education, Texas has achieved a graduation rate of 86%. These statistics show Texas is truly making an effort in its education program by providing students a quality learning experience to better equip students for future success. Texas ranked number one in the country for graduation rates among Asian and white students, and tied for first among African-American students.

Students participating in Communities In Schools of Greater Tarrant County programs graduated at a rate of 95% last year, which is higher than the state average. CIS is contributing to these high graduation rates by providing targeted, intensive case management to the most vulnerable students. The dedicated CIS workers are helping support students to ensure they can “succeed in life,” by taking the first step and receiving their high school diploma.

For the full article, please visit:

Whatever It Takes

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Communities In Schools consistently proves its willingness to do “whatever it takes” to help students stay in school and achieve in life, both inside and outside the classroom. CIS provides necessities like food and soap to improve students’ home life, as well as new clothes and shoes to increase their self-confidence. We provide school supplies, books and tutoring to foster academic success, and moral support and guidance to help students succeed in life. Communities In Schools understands and truly does “whatever it takes” to make dreams come alive.

Hear the stories. See for yourself.

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Texas High School Graduation Rates Rising

Report: Texas high school graduation rates rising

WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press

Updated 12:12 a.m., Monday, March 19, 2012

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas’ graduation rate for high school students increased 1.9 percent since 2002 to just below the national average, according to a new report by a coalition of education groups.

The report found that high school graduation rates rose from 73.5 percent to 75.4 percent between 2002 and 2009— and pulled almost even with the 2009 average nationwide of 75.5 percent.

The national graduation rate, though, increased faster than the state’s, climbing 2.9 percent over the same 7-year period. The biggest gains nationwide came in Tennessee, where rates jumped 17.8 percent, and New York, which increased 13 percent, between 2002 and 2009.

The report did not provide a state-by-state ranking, but comparing results showed that Texas and Colorado are tied for 28th, just behind Oregon and just ahead of Michigan, Rhode Island and Hawaii. Wisconsin led the nation with a graduation rate of 90.7, while Nevada was last with 56.3 percent.

The report will be presented Monday in Washington at the Building a Grad Nation summit sponsored by America’s Promise Alliance, a children’s advocacy organization founded by former Secretary of State Colin Powell. It was authored by John Bridgeland and Mary Bruce of Civic Enterprises, a public policy firm focused on social change, and Robert Balfanz and Joanna Fox of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University.

The authors used the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate, which tracks first-year students through all their years in high school, since they said it was the best and most-recent data available nationwide.

More good news for Texas came in the state’s percentage of 4th graders testing at or above proficient in reading, which increased a single percentage point to 28 percent between 2003 and last year. The percentage of 8th graders testing at or above proficient in math also jumped from 25 percent to 40 percent over the same period.

Texas is in the first year of implementing a new standardized testing system, and some districts have drawn criticism for spending more time preparing kids for statewide exams than they do on actual classroom instruction. But Robert Scott, appointed by Gov. Rick Perry as head of the Texas Education Agency, has maintained that students statewide are improving in reading, math and science — and that their high school graduation rates have increased — despite more-strenuous standardized testing.

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Breaking News from Austin


“I cannot and will not certify the ban on social promotions unless there are resources to provide interventions to students who need to pass the test.”

Robert Scott, in a speech before superintendents and school board trustees this afternoon, pulled the biggest gun out of the education commissioner’s arsenal to guarantee lawmakers will start sending new money to schools next session.

Scott’s speech to the Texas Association of School Administrators’ Midwinter Conference was probably the best speech ever has given to the group during his years as interim and permanent commissioner. In it, he included an apology for the recent $4 billion in education funding cuts, plus the $1.4 billion carved out of the state education agency, much of which went to raising student achievement.

Too much has been loaded onto the state’s current accountability system, Scott said, a system which is dominated by a growing number of high-stakes tests that Scott generally supports. That includes a new requirement that high school students pass 12 end-of-course tests in order to graduate, starting with the Class of 2015.

“I believe that testing is good for some things, but the system that we created has become a perversion of its original intent,” Scott said, to thunderous applause from the school officials. “The intent to improve teaching and learning has gone too far afield, and I look forward to reeling it back in.”

So how does the education commissioner do that, when the power to broaden graduation requirements is given to the Legislature, and the power to set standards and curriculum is shared with the State Board of Education? In this case, Scott is going to turn to a provision in law added by Democrat Sen. Royce West when the accountability system recently was overhauled and new requirements added.

“As we move into implementation of end-of-course exams and STAAR, I believe that additional resources will be needed in the future,” Scott said. “And I will tell you that the legislative appropriations request that the agency makes to the next Legislature will reflect that, and I will say this as well, and this is going to get me in trouble when I tell you but the law says it anyway, I cannot and will not certify the ban on social promotions unless there are resources to provide interventions to students who need to pass the test. That is the law. And I cannot and will not do so unless those resources are appropriated by the next legislature.”

That’s one long complicated quote, right? And it’s hard to know, on its surface, exactly what it means without putting in a call from West, who has a clear understanding what such a decision might mean.

“When we passed the legislation several years ago – the legislation with all the social promotion consequences when kids failed to pass high-stakes testing – the state agreed that it would provide the resources necessary in order to make certain all students could pass the test,” West said. “I made the point that if the state doesn’t live up to its part of this partnership, then the children shouldn’t be held accountable for the passage of those tests. That’s what’s meant by certifying.”

So this is how it would go down: Scott would carry an appropriations request to the Legislature. The Legislature would choose to either fund or partially fund that request. If Scott’s not sufficiently confident that the funding will cover the cost of higher standards in classrooms around the state, then he can choose not to certify and render the state’s entire testing system null and void.

How that would play out is hard to imagine and possibly a huge headache for lawmakers, many of whom are not enamored of the current testing system. Would tests count for school ratings but not for student performance? If that section of law is voided, even temporarily, how will students graduate?

“I wouldn’t say that takes the accountability system off the table, but if we’re not providing the resources, the kids shouldn’t be responsible for passing the tests,” West said. “We need to have the revenue necessary to provide the resources.”

How Scott, possibly in conjunction with higher education commissioner Raymund Paredes, would determine the magic number that constitutes sufficient funding is still an open question. West’s amendment was silent on that issue, possibly giving Scott broad latitude to decide sufficient funding levels.

For his part, West, who fought for additional education funding last session, is happy to hear Scott’s commitment to funding.

“I applaud the commissioner for recognizing and taking this responsibility seriously,” West said. “He needs to make certain that the state does its part to get the resources to the classroom for this high-stakes testing that we’re doing in Texas.”

By Kimberly Reeves

Copyright January 31, 2012, Harvey Kronberg,, All rights are reserved

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Prom Dress Drive

It is time to kick off our 2nd annual CIS Prom Dress Drive!  Please look in your closet and pull out any formal dresses that you would like to donate to our CIS prom store. The CIS Prom Store is designed to allow girls who attend our CIS high schools, who would not otherwise be able to afford a prom dress, to “shop” for their very own prom dress at no cost to the student. We are looking to collect approximately 80 formal dresses with no discrimination in size, color, or style. We are only asking that the dresses be in good shape.  If you are interested in donating a dress (or two!) please contact Brigitte Diaz-Voigts at  or Sara Isley at  If you do not have dresses to donate but still wish to help, we are accepting small monetary donations to go toward dry cleaning and event supplies. We will need to have all dresses collected no later than Wednesday, March 21, 2012. Thank you so much for your help in making prom a special event for the seniors who attend CIS schools!

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46 Million Americans Now Living In Poverty, Highest Level In 18 Years – The Consumerist

Article below is from The Consumerist found at You can also view the article here.


Tarrant County in 2030: What does this mean for education?

Every 10 years, the U.S. government sets out to count all of the people in the country. This helps our leaders to ensure that money is allocated fairly – that there are the right roads, houses, infrastructure  and most importantly the right number of schools. The 2010 census showed that Tarrant County was the fastest growing county in Texas at 25% (Fort Worth outpaced all major metro areas in Texas at 38.6%). This growth rate was driven by growth in the Hispanic population but saw increases in African American and Asian population as well. This resulted in more multicultural cities and suburbs. On the whole, a lot to be excited about.

But there is something else to these numbers. More than 28.3% of the population is under the age of 18 (meaning that they are school aged and need public education). Additionally, 8.5% of the population is under the age of 5 – meaning that they need preschool and Head Start education to get them onto the right track. Some other notes:

  • 21.2% of children live in poverty
  • Black and Hispanic children are three times more likely to live in poverty that white children
  • 13% children receive SSI
  • 29% drop out of high school
  • 59% of Tarrant County’s students are economically disadvantaged (and that is rising as a result of the recession)

The bottom line is that there are a lot of school aged students in Tarrant County who need help. Many of them are at risk of being left behind. Their economic disadvantage translates into lower TAKS passage rates especially in math and reading. Getting left behind in school leads to increased dropouts. And high school dropouts are nearly twice as likely to live in poverty as graduates thus repeating the cycle.

One of the key ideas to this census data is that with this growth comes more students just like the students we are currently serving in Tarrant County. Students who will need help to stay in school and be successful. Our state’s economic prosperity depends on an educated and effective work force. Our state’s liberty depends on having responsible citizens.

What will Tarrant County look like in 2030? Undoubtedly it will be larger, more diverse, more non-English speaking, and more spread out geographically. By 2030, estimates show that Texas will add 13.6 million people – the equivalent of adding another DFW, San Antonio, Houston and Corpus Christi.

What will that mean for education?

– Stacy Landreth Grau, Ph.D.
CIS Board Member
Neeley School of Business and Texas Christian University
Associate Professor of Professional Practice in Marketing

(Sources: Texas Kids Count (; 2007-2009 American Community Survey, US Census Bureau; Texas Education Agency; Intercultural development research association; US Census Bureau; Texas County Profile by the County Information Project, Texas Association of Counties; Looming Boom: Texas Through 2030 by James P. Gaines January 2008)

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What is the real economic impact of losing 1/3 of our students before graduation?

The research says that each student who leaves school without a diploma costs taxpayers about $270,000 in lost wages, lost tax revenue, increased job retraining, increased public assistance costs, increased incarceration costs, etc. Over 10,000 students left TarrantCountyschools last year without a diploma. Simple multiplication yields a cost to taxpayers of $2.7 billion for this one class of students. If that is not bad enough, what is the cost of constantly growing the number of adults in our community without high school diplomas? What does this say to CEOs considering Tarrant Countyas their corporate home? If no adult in a family has ever graduated, what are the educational expectations for their children? What effect does breaking this cycle have on family trees? If evidence-based solutions are available, can we afford to continue missing the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for our children to break the cycle?

– Mike Steele, President and CEO